European shares fell on Thursday after negative growth forecasts for the euro zone and poor results from some of the region's lenders reignited concern Europe was becoming trapped in a spiral of economic shrinkage and debt.
The euro zone economy is expected to contract by 0.3 percent, versus previous expectations for a 0.5 rise, EU data showed, pointing to a gloomy picture for corporate earnings and debt-laden governments trying to reduce their deficits.
Auto stocks <.SXAP>, which are heavily exposed to domestic demand, were the worst performers, shedding 1.8 percent, although the sector was still up 30 percent year to date.
It gave people a very easy reason to sell: 'I made my money, thank you very much', said Erich Hauser, analyst at Credit Suisse.
Banks <.SX7P> fell 0.7 percent, with Commerzbank
The FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares provisionally closed 0.2 percent lower at 1,075.13 points.
(Reporting By Francesco Canepa)